The latest trend for fermenting vegetables may be more than just a good way to keep them fresh and full of nutrients. According to Somerset-based tutor and fermenting advisor to Radio 4’s The Archers, Katie Venner of Tracebridge Sourdough in Wellington, it may also be the best way to cut down on sugar.
“Anecdotal evidence from friends and people who have been on our fermenting courses is that once you get a taste for fermented vegetables, it really helps to cut down on sugar cravings,” says Katie. “And that can help to cut down your alcohol units too.”
Fermenting is the art of preserving raw vegetables in brine and dates back to pre-Roman times when a lack of refrigeration meant people relied on salt and the bacterial cultures which form naturally on the leaves of vegetables like cabbage to ferment and preserve vegetables for winter eating, most famously in foods like sauerkraut and Kimchi.
Fermenting is currently enjoying a revival thanks to an interest in probiotics. Though some people find the complex, sour taste an acquired taste, preserving with salt in facto-fermentation is a centuries old way to preserve gluts from home-grown crops and the high levels of lactobacillus your preserves then contain has been shown to promote gut health.
According to Katie, all you need to start fermenting your own vegetables is some good salt, a hard cabbage and a clean jar. Simply chop it up into small pieces, cover well in the salt and store in jars. All brassicas make good subjects for fermenting, as well as onions, carrots, beetroots and turnips, in fact most veg can be preserved this way.
Katie Venner is giving a talk and demonstrating how to make a simple sauerkraut, with plenty of her own veg ferments to taste, at Toby Buckland’s new Garden & Harvest Festival at Forde Abbey on Saturday 16th September.
Tickets cost £10 in advance